Trembling With Fear 6-16-24

Greetings, children of the dark. We’ve hit the week of the Solstice, which means here in the UK the days are about as long as they’ll ever be. I’m celebrating by doing that very horror thing of heading to a cabin in the woods for a mini-creative recovery/retreat type of thing. I’d love to know what you’re up to: do you celebrate these moments in time? 

For that reason, and because I’m writing this the day before my next Writing the Occult event and so my brain is a bit too wired, I’ll keep it short this week. Just one note: remember that our short story submissions are only open in four windows now. We just couldn’t keep up with the submissions, and because we can only publish one story a week it was the sensible thing to do—noone wants to wait literal years to see their story on a website, right? Anything submitted to us outside of those windows will unfortunately be returned to you unread. 

That said, we have a window coming up… Make sure to check out our submissions guidelines for details of what and when we’re open. We can tell if you haven’t looked at them. And remember, we’re ALWAYS open for drabbles! Insatiably so. Feed the drabbles beast!

For this week’s darkly speculative offerings, our menu kicks off with despatches from a failing neighbourhood, direct from the mind of Benjamin Larned. That’s followed by the short, sharp speculations of:

  • Keith B. Walters’s failed sacrifice,
  • Gabrielle Bleu’s Ice Age revival, and
  • F.M. Scott’s mad science.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

First things first, please support our latest sponsors!

First: Order a copy of Backwaters on Amazon! “Like Flannery O’Connor, but with toxic mermaids and body horror.” — CARLTON MELLICK III, author of Full Metal Octopus and The Haunted Vagina

Second: Get 99 horror stories that range from quiet horror, hinting at the things buried there in your psyche – the thing that will come out to play after dark, and visceral horror that leaves no doubt what lies in a bloody heap in the middle of the floor. This UNHOLY TRINITY combines three of L. Marie Wood’s horror collections, Caliginy, Phantasma, and Anathema.

Order a copy today directly from Mocha Memoirs Press or Amazon!


Hi all! 

I’ve spent most of the last week communicating with all of you lovely souls who have reached out to offer aid to Horror Tree. Things are progressing, and it looks like we’ll have a few new faces to help with various aspects of the site soon! I’m hoping to have some big news on multiple fronts in the next week or two. 

Now, for the standards:

  • Thank you so much to everyone who has become a Patreon for Horror Tree. We honestly couldn’t make it without you all! 

Offhand, if you’ve ordered Trembling With Fear Volume 6, we’d appreciate a review! 🙂

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Benjamin Larned

Benjamin Larned (he/they) is a queer horror writer and filmmaker. Their work is featured in Vastarien, Apocalypse Confidential, Creepy Podcast, and Seize the Press, among others. “What Scares a Ghost?”, their story in Coffin Bell, was nominated for the Best Small Fictions 2023. Their short film “Payment” is streaming on ALTER.

Our Neighbourhood, In Decline, by Benjamin Larned


The snow came down in heavy sheets, two feet of ice by dawn. Trees fell and power lines snapped, roofs collapsed. We woke to a pure blanket of white. The plows haven’t come through. No one has shoveled. No one has gone out at all.



Silence for hours. No cars, no sirens, no voices. Just gray sky and falling snow. Then someone screamed down the street. It was a cold, sharp sound, muffled by the clouds and ice. A moment later we almost didn’t believe it had happened.

There are screams now and then, all cold and sharp and muffled. But outside we don’t see anyone. The snow is unbroken. It’s beautiful outside, when everyone is quiet. We try to think of that instead.



Something moved at dusk. A pack of children, dressed for the cold, pulling a sled of metal tools from house to house. We don’t know what it means or what they’re doing. There are screams, though, wherever they pass. Their tracks don’t disturb the snow. They might as well be ghosts.



It hasn’t snowed in days and the ground is still pure white. Nothing has melted, and no one has stepped outside. Or perhaps the snow has covered their tracks. 

None of us risk venturing out. We see each other in the windows and make gestures, but otherwise keep to ourselves. The quiet is almost natural now. When a scream pierces it, we all flinch. It isn’t often that someone screams – maybe because no one has gone outside. We will keep to this routine until we learn something.



A local girl, only eleven or twelve, has come into possession of a gun. She’s been walking from house to house and shooting everyone inside. The gun never seems to run out of bullets. 



There’s things in the pipes. Things creeping from underground. Were they dormant before, or have they just appeared? I hear them sliding and scratching past. People talk about a thing of clotted vegetal rot, spawned from gutters and sewers across town, sliding out of toilets or vents and swallowing people alive in their homes. I stay up at night and listen in case they break through. It might be picking and choosing; it might come out of the sink any minute, and stop me from writing this. I can almost hear it in the drain.



We heard the warning at dawn. A dead girl has appeared in the uppermost window of the mansion on 11th and Penn. She has a smile so insane it kills people at a glance. There’s bodies all around in the snow, they say, and the girl just smiles and smiles.



The unmelting snow has begun to radiate. We see it through the windows, like a never-ending Christmas parade. Someone built snowmen out of it, or the snowmen built themselves. They shift around at night, impossible colors roiling past the window. 



What is happening to us? Is it a widespread hallucination, or a curse? Are we being punished? Have we all been taken into the same hell? Or is the whole world like this now, snowed in and out of its mind?



Isolation has driven us mad. We couldn’t have seen what we saw. The shadows outside the window were not human. They looked like trees, decorated for Christmas, prowling through the snow. I pulled the blinds back for an instant and found needles trailing across the lawn.



Someone has started setting fires. We can see smoke and orange flares now and then through the windows. Maybe it’s vandalism, maybe it’s just self-defense. Whatever the reason, they’ve started to spread. We huddle in the center of our homes, under furniture and counters, as the strange shadows pass outside; we pray that they won’t burn us next.



Every few days someone loses their grip and shoots whatever they can, usually themselves. It’s hard to blame them. We never check to see who died. It isn’t smart to go near the windows.



Many of us have abandoned houses altogether. With so many things in the pipes, burrowing through the ground and up into basements, slithering through the toilet bowl or out the very walls, these people have elected to live outside in tents. At least their vantage point is good and clear. It must be so cold, though, in the snow that never melts.



There will be no more reports. We won’t look outside. We won’t respond to calls or knocks. We will keep the doors and windows sealed. Sometimes a person will pound at the door and beg for help, but they stop eventually. We hear them running through the snow, howling for mercy, only to shriek and go silent. We never see what gets them. It’s something big, and fast, and it’s never far away.

Failing the Forest

It was closing in, he could deny it no longer.

The clouds above darker and lower in the sky, the bushes and the trees seemed to be reaching out for him, branches threatening to tear at his clothes and then his skin.

He ran on, but knew it was pointless.

He had failed the forest.

The sacrifice he’d been forced to promise, he had let her go – the woman now a tiny figure sprinting into the distance.

He couldn’t go through with it.

He was beaten.

Dropping to his knees in the shifting dirt, he took a breath and prayed.

Keith B Walters

Keith B Walters lives in South East London and, after over thirty five years in the signage industry, quit all of that to be a bookseller in a very well known chain of bookstores. He has written reviews and interviewed authors and actors in the crime and horror genre for fanzines and blogs in the past and was ‘blogger in residence’ at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival for two years.

Anthropocene Thaw

In desperate mountain combat, a hunter killed a beast. The broken copper axe head burned between the wolf’s shoulder blades, iced over in the frigid air. 

But the bite of copper was long forgotten. The site of the glacial battle was no longer frozen, and the wolf’s sleep broke. Thawing permafrost clung to his matted fur. His skin, once preserved, split and putrefied.

Rage filled his Ice Age heart at the indignity of the meltwater awakening. He was hurt, and he was hungry.

The wolf stalked down the mountain towards the electric lights of the new cities below. Vengeance awaited.

Gabrielle Bleu

Gabrielle Bleu writes science fiction and fantasy. Their work has appeared in Archive of the Odd, Hexagon, and the Gargantua anthology by Air and Nothingness Press. Find more of her work at

Birthing Room

In the mirror, the eyes jolt me to life. Gray-brown, unbalanced, swimming in their sockets.

Words issue from behind: “Scars, of course.” They appear on my right cheek and fill out, avatars of what’s underneath. The nose is “a nugget of river rock, a pedigree of street fights”.  Finally the mouth—large, crooked, and “full of the kind of teeth through which flow a litany of deep terror and agony.”

The look of a killer.

I glance at the bed behind me. She’s so talented, eyes closed, words precise. Soon I’ll be finished, and I’ll release her from her sleep.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is a retired grant writer for nonprofit mental health services. His stories have appeared in Skink Beat Review, Apple in the Dark, The Horror Tree, The Killer Collection Anthology (Nick Botic Horror), Sirius Science Fiction, and more. He has finished a book that will include a novella and a handful of short stories. Instagram: fmscottauthor / X: @fmscottauthor.

You may also like...